Life and Debt explores the effect of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) policies on developing countries through Jamaica’s experience with the organization. Jamaica, having gained its independence from Britain in 1962, found itself struggling as a result of the oil embargo the following year. In order to receive loans from the IMF, the country entered into a tricky agreement with its lenders.
The terms of the loan stipulated that Jamaica had to agree to reduce trade barriers by withdrawing its local import restrictions, and thus enter the world market. The local economy became flooded with foreign goods, which were cheaper than those produced locally, resulting in a loss of jobs and economic self-reliance. Interviews with Stanley Fisher, Deputy Director of the IMF, reveal that the IMF’s mission is to alleviate short-term deficits, not assuage long-term economic hardship.